Christelle Daunay (FRA) (Getty Images) © Copyright
In front of 15,000 spectators (twice as many as the population of Langeux, West of France), Ethiopians Fikadu Haftu, Tigabu Gebremariam and Girma Berahnu, Kenyans Reuben Limaa and Saiti Salim, as well as Moroccan Abdelhadi El Mouaziz opened the men’s race very fast (2:40 for the first kilometres).
The seven Africans quickly separated themselves from the pack and maintain an intense pace during the first half of the race, presumably in order to exhaust the opposition. Limaa, third in Paris Half-Marathon (60:57) for his career debut on the European circuit in March, animated the race during the second loop of the race.
The Kenyans injected several accelerations, while the wind was now blowing strongly, which gradually pulled away all his rivals except the young Haftu, 18, who has following him like a shadow. They remained together during the last two kilometres and as Limaa seemed to have the race won, Haftu, produced a late sprint with 50m to go a won the race in 28:17 by just 1sec. Gebremariam duplicate the third place he got last year, when the race record was set in 27:46 by Ethiopian Atsedy Tsegay.
However, the women’s race record was broken by Marathon specialist Christelle Daunay with 31:48, and missed the old French record by only 10sec (by Nadia Prasad in 1994). Still, she was not really deceived as she won with a large margin over Ethiopian Tsehay Desalegn (33:06) and the time was good considering that the conditions were not conducive for setting great performance on Saturday.
"The course design is difficult, with slight slopes and above all the bursts of wind were disturbing us", she explained.
Three weeks ago she already showed her great shape in breaking the even older track 10 000m record (31:42.83 by Rosario Murcia in 1992) with 31:35.81 for third place at European Cup in Bilbao. For her last race six weeks before the Olympic Marathon, Daunay managed to get confidence before the final part of her preparation, now geared toward a larger mileage.
"The level at Marathon is very high, so I will need to be at the level of my record (2:24:22) or less in order to be a factor in that race."
P-J Vazel for the IAAF
Click here for RESULTS
1. Fikadu Haftu (ETH) 28:17
2. Reuben Limaa (KEN) 28:18
3. Tigabu Gebremariam (ETH) 28:26
4. Abdelhadi El Mouaziz 28:30
5. Salim Saiti (KEN) 28:42
6. Girma Berahnu (ETH) 28:46
7. Onesphore Nkunzimana (BUR) 28:56
8. Mustapha Al Riyadh (BRN) 28:59
9. Abraham Niyonkuru (BUR) 29:00
10. El Hassane Ben Lkhainouch (MAR) 29:01
1. Christelle Daunay (FRA) 31:48 (CR)
2. Tsehay Desalegn (ETH) 33:06
3. Sarah Chepchirchir (KEN) 33:31
4. Nancy Omwenga (KEN) 34:06
5. Godeliève Nizigiyimana (BDI) 34:31
6. Laurane Pichoche (FRA) 34:33
7. Mecelyne Ondieki (KEN) 34:36
8. Natalia Starkova (RUS) 34:40
9. Martha Komu (KEN) 34:52
10. Karine Pasquier (FRA) 35:03